Ragusa Ibla is one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily. Those who read me know that for me this region is among the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful in Italy. I am not Sicilian but Tuscan and yet this land has always attracted me. I have been seeing and touring Sicily for decades. I have seen places ‘transform’, improve or get worse but the charm remains intact.
After having seen the major cities of Sicily both for work and for pleasure, during a press tour, one day with some colleagues we decided to ‘escape’ from the winery tour and head for Ragusa. None of us had ever seen it and I can say that it was the city that impressed me the most.
I am not a fan of Commissario Montalbano, but Ragusa with its colours is part of that story that has entered us through the pages of his books and, above all, from TV images.
I don’t like baroque though…
I am a woman of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Florence runs through my veins and I do not like Baroque. Ragusa, however, has enraptured me. Its souls, Ragusa Superiore, born after the terrible earthquake of 1693, and Ragusa Ibla, the ancient heart, communicate through a long flight of steps.
In Ragusa, one must stroll through the streets and enjoy the buildings and the view. The Cathedral of San Giorgio is majestic, one of the most beautiful churches in the Val di Noto. A wrought-iron gate encloses it.
The Portal of St George
The Portal of San Giorgio, which was part of the ancient church that resisted the terrible earthquake, is beautiful and significant. On the cathedral square are interesting buildings such as Palazzo Arezzo di Sanfilippo, built during the Renaissance but remodelled over the centuries to its current appearance.
A very linear church in a very baroque city, the church of San Vincenzo Ferreri, now deconsecrated and located right next to the Ibleo Garden.
A large park of some 15,00 hectares overlooking the Irminio valley. Apparently the idea came in the mid-1800s to three wealthy citizens. You are greeted by an avenue of palm trees and clear pavement, there are fountains and a wonderful balcony from which to gaze out.
Discovering Ragusa by walking through the alleys
Strolling through the alleys, one can reach the Church of the Madonna dell’Itria, which is notable for its blue dome. Also enlarged in 1600 but with an older original base. The church is attached to Palazzo Cosentini, another fascinating Baroque example.
In the alleys and streets one comes across numerous palaces, built between the end of the 1600s and the 1700s by noble families. Every stone tells the story of those Sicilian years. I therefore leave you to wander around, as we did, because, in my opinion, this is also how you discover a city.
What to eat in Ragusa
Cavati al sugo and ricotta ravioli. Onions from Giarratana, the sweet Fagiolo cosaruciaru from Scicli and Fava cottoia from Modica. Ragusa’s typical dish is ‘coniglio a partuisa’ (rabbit a partuisa), but don’t forget the Ricotta iblea PAT or Caciocavallo Ragusano DOP cheeses. Not to be forgotten is the Maccuun dish of dried broad beans accompanied by wild fennel, also served with pasta.
Desserts include carob biscuits, cannoli with wonderful ricotta and all other specialities with dried fruit.
Remember not to miss tasting Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily’s only DOCG, there are some exceptional ones.